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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

Soviet citizens^ and by generally dealing with the Poles as they wished,
giving amnesty to some and not to others, and so forth. All' of which
' realistic' policy was intended to convince the Polish Government in
London, and the Polish exiles in Russia, that their fate was dependent
entirely on the will of the Soviet Government and the whims of the
N.K.V.D. Since the Polish Government refused to allow itself to be
exploited politically, they were of no further value. Sikorski had followed
closely the lines of the British policy in relation to Russia, i.e., an attitude
of compliance and the postponement of all delicate problems with the
object of finally settling them at the peace conference. But while it was
an easy policy for the British, since the concessions would not affect their
own interests to any great extent, it was an extremely difficult policy for
the Poles to follow since the problems concerned were the existence of
the Polish State and the question of life or death to the many Poles held
in Russia. Thus, by the time, the Soviets had realised that they were
once again in a position to make fresh demands, Sikorski had gone too
far to turn back and he was forced to continue his policy of appeasement
by further concessions until his stock was exhausted and the point reached
*' beyond which no Pole can go.9* Sikorski did not wish to recognise the
failure of his policy and he therefore found himself in a difficult position.
He tried hard not to lose face, hoping that by some miracle the Soviet
policy would change. In an endeavour to conceal his misgivings, he was
obliged to conceal the true situation even after the greatness of the
disaster had surpassed his own lack of success and reached the dimensions
of a national catastrophe. And so, both in his statements and in the
official Press, the Polish Soviet relations were to follow a fantastic course
quite apart from the reality.
In May, 1942, the news of the thousands of missing people reached
London and re-affirmed the suspicions that many Poles were still being
held in the Soviet labour camps.* In the summer the Polish Press in
America revealed the case of the missing officers, expressing the fear that
they might have been handed over to the Germans or murdered, either
by the Russians or the Germans or by both. The Polish Government
had already known in the October of 1941 that these men were missing,
but no one had had the slightest inkling of the incredible fate of these
officers. The anxiety of the Polish emigrees in Britain and the Poles in
the U.S.A. was to augment with each succeeding day.
*
The Government of National Unity was to disagree with Sikorski and
finally split over the Polish-Russian Pact of 1941, and the National Council,
which had been formed in France (and from which he had received no
* The British press approached this question cautiously. The Review of World
Affairs on June 1st, 1942, for instance, stated:
< Unfortunately, several thousand officers are still missing and the chances of
tracing them are now remote as not even O.G.P.U. can say where they are. This
great tragedy has much disturbed our Polish Allies * . ,'*
92